My Reading List

A few years ago I read Louis L’Amour’s book “Education Of A Wandering Man” and noted he had kept a record of his reading for many years. I decided that might be a handy thing to have for a writer so I started my own reading list. From 2009 on the list is accurate, prior to that I have added books as I remember having read them.

I think a reading list is an important tool for biographers in years to come (should one become worthy of being written about) and for your own pleasure and records. It is very much like a companion to any blog or journal you may keep. I have started with a place to list what I am reading at present and hopefully I will remember to refresh this as frequently as necessary.

26 November 2012

I have been reading several books about Singapore and Malaya in preparation for my visit there during the Singapore Writer’s Festival. Noel Barber gave me ‘Tanamera’ and ‘War of the Running Dogs’ as well as ‘Sinister Twilight’. I also read Tsuji’s ‘Japan’s Greatest Victory, Britain’s Greatest Defeat ‘ and ‘Syonan – My Story’ by Singapore’s Schindler, Shinozaki. On top of this was a ton of stuff on the campaign there as well as the Malayan Emergency of the 50s. Being able to read in such depth and breadth and then walk the very same streets was a great experience.

In my last entry I mentioned hoping to meet Bryce Courtney one day. Sadly, he passed away the day before yesterday and so I will never get the opportunity, at least not in this lifetime.

15 June 2012

Reading Now: ‘Assegai’ by Wilbur Smith. I’m sorry, I have been a life long Wilbur Smith fan but his last two books, including this one, simply don’t match up. Far too predictable and formulaic. I know what is coming and it no longer rings true. I won’t go into specifics, suffice to say I am disappointed.

Just Finished: ‘The Chrysalids’ by John Wyndham and ‘Power of One’ by Bryce Courtenay. Loved them both. Wyndham’s work was haunting and ahead of its time in many respects. Courtenay’s first novel is, according to some, his best or his ‘only’ novel worth reading. I will read more from this author and one day hope to say G’Day and thanks for a great read.

30 January 2012

Reading Now: ‘Road Dogs’ by Elmore Leonard. I thought it was high time I read something from this living legend, the author who says he leaves out the bits readers skip.

Just Finished: Philip K. Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?’ and really enjoyed the concepts. It does make you question what is human and what is living, do we afford other entities the same respect, even if they aren’t like us, even if we make them? I have a stack of books to read but some of the good ones that spring to mind since the last entry include ‘Fall Of Giants’, Ken Follett and these listed below:

Llosa, Mario Vargas The Bad Girl
Morrell, David The Successful Novelist
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia Memories of My Melancholy Whores
Lowndes, Ginny Corrugated Roads
Fagan, Vivienne Hilda Hopkins, Saints And Sinners
Winton, Tim Cloudstreet

I am trying to read authors other than those that write in English and found Llosa’s ‘The Bad Girl’ to be a superbly crafted story. I liked Marquez’s ‘Memories of My Melancholy Whores’ and recently read Javier Marias’ ‘Tomorrow In The Battle Think On Me’. That had a terrific premise, what if the woman you are about to have an affair with dies? Her husband is away on business and her 2 year old son asleep in the next room. What would you do? I also read ‘Cloudstreet’ but preferred ‘Dirt Music’. It was a strange novel, seemed to grow on you but it was very disjointed, all over the place in some respects. I was told it was a ‘sum of all parts’ kind of novel. Far better for an Australian novel set in about the same era is Ginny Lowndes’ ‘Corrugated Roads’.

25 September 2011

I have read a few more of W. Somerset Maugham and Robert A. Heinlein. For a while there I swapped from ‘Theater’ to ‘The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress’, then ‘Cakes And Ale’ followed by ‘Red Planet’ in some kind of Maugham-Heinlein two step. Currently working my way through ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’ by Thomas Hardy. I must say it is interesting from a historical perspective but not my cup of tea. Makes a change after Tim Winton’s ‘Dirt Music’, the informal dialogue of which (no ” and ” to tell you someone is speaking) makes it a kind of  ‘silent ‘ movie like narrative in my mind.

Highly Recommended: ‘Harry and Ivory’ by John Aalborg. A magnificent piece of contemporary literature that explores the dark side of us all. We all have that side we keep fairly well hidden and while it is not bad as such, society tells us it is not for ‘polite company’.  Available as a Kindle and also in hardcopy ( I published it and am very proud of that)

30 May 2011

Been a while but better late than never. I have recently read ‘Lolita’ by Vladimir Nabokov and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. As the father of five young daughters I did commence the read with some trepidation however it is not at all ‘smutty’, in fact it handles the relationship as tastefully as one can, given the admission early on that Humbert Humbert the protagonist is mentally ill. Some of the prose is very unique and had me searching old dictionaries for the meanings of several words. It is worth the read and also worth watching is the beautifully done 1996 film version starring Jeremy Irons and Dominique Swain.

I am currently reading ‘Orwell The Life’ by DJ Taylor after Menard’s ‘The Two Worlds of Somerset Maugham’. Drilling really deeply into the biographies of the writers is enlightening and as soon as I finish ‘Pride and Prejudice’ on my Kindle I will take a closer look  at Jane Austen, too.

7 Feb 2011

Reading Now: ‘Catalina’ by W. Somerset Maugham. Maugham is one of my favourite writers. So far I have read just his ‘Of Human Bondage’ and ‘The Painted Veil’ but a few of his short stories too. Love his prose, it just flows. This story is the last novel he wrote, set in Spain during the Inquisition and I’m just five pages in so early days yet.

Just Finished: ‘Across The River And Into The Trees’ by Ernest Hemingway. I can see why this copped a hiding but I liked it. I think the 50 year old Colonel calling his 18 year old mistress ‘Daughter’ a bit strange but then he was a strange character in many ways. Lots of dialogue and some that is rather affected, if that is the right term. A bit moody for me and yet knowing Hemingway and having studied him in depth, this book makes sense and must be read by all who want to understand him better.

2 Jul 2010

Reading Now:‘The White Rajah’, 1961, Nicholas Montsarrat. Set in the 1860s in the Dutch East Indies and probably influenced by Conrad’s ‘Lord Jim’ and whatever else it is all the same a readable tale. It follows the adventures of the second son of a Baron, cast out without a penny to make his own fortune so he heads for the Spice Islands and a little skullduggery. Classic stuff!

Just Finished:“The Harp In The South” by Ruth Park, 1949. Some terrific character descriptions and dialogue of the time and place. Having lived in Surry Hills myself I can relate to the streets and houses of the location.

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